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Join me in my daily walk through the joys and struggles of parenthood. Share a word of encouragement or be encouraged. Cry a little, laugh a lot, but know it is all in divine order.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Muffins with Mom – Top 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents



Holiday basketball tournament - Battle Creek Central High School
A family outing
Our Muffins with Mom excursion today again deviates from a muffin treat. In light of the Holiday I’m trying to clear all of the sweet delectable from my home. Pull up a chair and join me for Sweet Potato Pie with a scoop of ice cream as we jump into the story.
A family road trip is a great time for discovery. Recently my son played in a holiday basketball tournament. On the hour drive home we talked about the game, past family vacations and other stuff. It was the “other stuff” that prompted my number one New Year’s Resolution – Spend more time with the kids.

We reflected on the things my son did on his trip to Europe (People to People program) three years ago. He told me there was a riot going on while his group was in Ireland. He also reflected on his horseback riding experience through rain and mud. My first response was, “You didn’t tell me about a riot.”

So here are my top picks for New Year Resolutions for parents:

1.      Send time with your kids - listening to them, talking with them...

2.      Catch your kids being good

3.      Play with your kids more

4.      Practice patience

5.      Don’t overcommit

6.      Make time for yourself

7.      Always be grateful

 What are your parenting resolutions for 2014?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Feel Good Friday – A dose of inspiration


Photo Credit

As the year comes to an end and we anticipate new beginnings in the coming year, what will inspire you to reach your goals? A quote, a poem or a kind word from a friend can serve as a source of inspiration.
Today’s inspiration comes in the form of quotes on perseverance.

·         When the world says “Give up,” hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” – Author Unknown

·         Fall seven times, stand up eight. – Japanese Proverb

·         When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum. – Author Unknown

·         People often say that motivation doesn’t last. We’ll neither does a bathing – that’ why we recommend it daily. – Zig Zigglar

·         Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

·         With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all thing are attainable. – Thomas Foxwell Buxton

·         Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.

For more inspirational quotes visit The Quote Garden by clicking here.
What would you add to the list of inspirational quotes?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays - A Kwanzaa Celebration

Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa. I recently had the opportunity to attend a Kwanzaa celebration. During the celebration there were art displays, readings and entertainment by a group of youth drummers.

I was able to capture a portion of the drumming on my phone. Here is a view of the talented youth.


Wishing you a wonderful Holiday!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Muffins with Mom – The Reluctant Shepherd


Homemade Red Velvet cake

Today, I thought a slice of Red Velvet cake would be appropriate in the spirit of the Holiday season. Pull up a chair and join me for a slice of cake and a slice of life. Journey with me to December 2012 as my son prepares for a Christmas program.
“Why do I have to be a shepherd?” my son asked.

My son and I stood in the vestibule of our church, preparing for the annual Christmas program. Although we were surrounded by other Sunday school teachers and children sorting through costumes, I felt like I was the only one dealing with a complainer.
“You said you would take a non-speaking part in the Christmas program this year” I reminded him.

He quickly found an excuse to worm his way out of the obligation. “My hair is too puffy to fit under the head wrap,” he said, forcing his hair under the cloth.
But I wasn’t letting him off that easily. “The people in biblical times made it work, so we will too.”

It was our family tradition to participate in the annual church Christmas program. But once my boys became teenagers, they thought they were too old to participate. At thirteen-year-old, Joshua, thought he had seen his final curtain call at age twelve. However, due to several youth going out of town for the holiday, we needed him once again.
During rehearsals Joshua slouched in his chair as other kids recited their parts. He twisted and turned uncomfortably. When his eyes met my gaze, his brows furrowed and he looked at me, pleading. You would have thought he was having a tooth pulled without any anesthetics.

My friend and co-director of the Christmas play crouched down near Joshua and spoke softly. She still used her pet name for him. “Baby J, if you participate in the play, I’ll take you to your favorite restaurant.” His face released a little tension as he said, “Ok.” The Reluctant Shepherd now had a new purpose for his performance.
A few days before the big production, Joshua and I talked about the real reason for his participation in the play. I relayed to him the importance of the role of the shepherd. “The shepherd is a leader who protects and guides. You shouldn’t have to be bribed to play such an important role.”
He looked at me intently then said, “Ok, but can Ms. Jones still buy me a hamburger?”

The big day finally arrived and the actors took their places in anticipation of their roles. The double doors leading into the sanctuary were closed. Joshua was at the front of the line followed by two other young shepherds.

When the doors finally opened, Joshua led the other shepherds down the red carpeted aisle. As the narrator read about the star in the east, the shepherds pointed skyward and continued on their journey.
The shepherds made their exit and the play was over. With delight in his voice Joshua said, “That was over quick. I’ll help again next year, but I want to be the director.”



Months went by and Joshua forgot about the bribe of a free meal at his favorite restaurant. But he didn’t forget about the sense of accomplishment he felt when he completed his role in the Christmas program. The reluctant shepherd had become the good shepherd.
Do you have a Holiday memory to share?

 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fun Friday – 5 surprising uses for bubble wrap

Photo credit: www.sheknows.com



Snap, snap, snap, it’s the sound bubble wrap being popped. Have you ever taken a piece of bubble wrap and twisted or pounded it until it sounded like popcorn? In addition to serving as a protective wrap, bubble wrap has the reputation of being used for stress relief and even for amusement.
If you receive a gift secured with bubble wrap, admire and enjoy the gift, but save the bubble wrap for fun and entertainment. Have you ever bought your child a gift and he plays with the box more than the gift? It’s your turn now. Here are some fun things to do with bubble wrap…it’s ok to include the kids too.

1.      Crafts – if you’re looking for something fun for the kids to do while out of school for the Holiday, make a few craft projects. They could make a crafty bug, a bubble wrap butterfly or even a game of hopscotch. Click here for the directions.
 
Photo credit:  www.sheknows.com
 

2.      Bubble Wrap Pom Poms – cut two dozen strips of bubble wrap 16 inches in length; fold the strips in half and tape with clear packaging tape or duct tape in the center. Repeat with the other dozen.

3.      Welcome Mat – with this project you’ll be sure to know when guests arrive.

4.      Volley Bubbleball – create a volleyball net using bubble wrap, then create a ball with the same material. Start playing.

5.      Place Mats – cut and decorate a piece of bubble wrap and it’s ready for your table; meals are sure to be a hit.
Check out more of these ideas at the bubble wrap website by clicking here. You can even play a game at the website where you are timed to see the number of bubble wrap bubbles you can pop.

Sooo, to wrap things up; have a little fun with bubble wrap over the Holiday season. Smash it, twist it or create with it.
What would you add to the list of uses for bubble wrap?

 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Muffins with Mom – Holiday Habits



Photo credit: www.blog.sweetque.com
Guess what? It’s National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, December 16th. Chocolate lovers everywhere have an excuse to indulge in anything chocolate covered. Instead of having a simple muffin today, join me for a special chocolate treat. I’m having chocolate covered strawberries, and maybe a mini muffin.

As I savor the flavor of sweet strawberry with a dip of chocolate, I am reminded of a few holiday habits that my boys engage in. A package arrived the other day, a Christmas gift for the boys. It was neatly wrapped in brown paper and a generous amount of packaging tape. This didn’t stop them from taking turns shaking the gift.

“Can we open this now?” one son asked.
With a scowl on my face and base in my voice, the answer was resounding, “NO.”

This was only one of their habits…to shake gifts and try to identify the contents. Another one of the boys’ habits consists of helping to hang candy canes on our Christmas tree, then eating them daily until gone. Leaving none for our Christmas dinner guests.
Only a single candy cane left.
 
This year we decided to create a few new holiday habits, below is our list.

1.      Each family member has to come up with a healthy meal idea to try over the holiday.

2.      Select an activity to do together that will get us up and active. One of the ideas is to go roller skating.

3.      Dedicate a day during the holiday as Random Act of Kindness Day.

Are there any holiday habits that you would like to change or add to your traditions? Don't forget to enjoy a bite of chocolate covered something.
Photo credit: beyondtheburger.wordpress.com
 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fun Friday – Parenting is…

How would you complete the statement, “parenting is…?” There’s rarely a dull moment in the life of a parent. No matter what stage of parenting you’re experiencing right now, you could probably find something interesting about the experience.

·         Watching the same video over and over when your child is a toddler.
·         Driving a car so dirty that you’re embarrassed when you have a passenger other than your child.
·         Having to respond to the word “why” a million times a day. If your child is a teen it may be that you hear the phrase, “why do I have to…?”
·         Fantasizing that your teen children will do their chores without you asking.
·         Wishing for more time to get things done.
·         Watching your child score a goal for the opposing team.
·         Being excited over a drawing your child made even though you have no idea what it is.
·         Preparing to enjoy a night on the town while the kids are with Grandma. Once they’re gone you realize you’re too tired to do anything.
·         Enjoying a good laugh with your child.

·         Loving your children unconditionally.

Just when you thought parenting couldn’t be more interesting…enters late night host, Jimmy Fallon with a video of moms freestyling.

Youtube video credit: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

What would you add to the list “parenting is…?”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

Photo credit: www.illdefinedartistry.com



“I cheated on my fears, broke up with my doubts, got engaged to my faith and now…I’m marrying my dreams.”

Author Unknown

Live your dream today!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Muffins with mom – The Island of Misfit Toys



Photo credit: www.urbanspoon.com

Today’s muffin talk begins with a chocolate chip muffin and a warm cup of coffee with a shot of Vanilla. Join me as you read.
Do you know where dead basketballs end up? Apparently in the basement of my home. I went to basement to retrieve Christmas decorations, when I stumbled upon forgotten treasures. It was like the Island of misfit toys in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.

Some kids outgrow their clothes and the clothes are given away or donated somewhere. My kids outgrow their toys, but they still seem to remain around the house. There are flat basketballs, footballs, old Nerf guns and so much more.

What do you do with toys that your child no longer plays with? One idea I had was to pack some of the items into a suitcase and send them with my son when he goes away to college. The forgotten treasures could serve as nostalgia to remind him of home.
Below are four ideas I found around the web for finding a new home for old toys.

1.      Sell old toys and baby clothes on E-bay or Craig’s list.

2.      Trade items – organize a swap party where you could trade clothes, toys or maybe even fun items such as jewelry.

3.      Repurpose – use old building blocks to make a wall hanging or animal head toys to make a coat rack.

4.      Donate – there may be a number of places in your area to donate items. Some fire departments and EMT’s keep stuffed animals on hand for children they transport to hospitals. Check local churches and business to see if they are having a toy drive.

Check out the website at donationtown for items that may be donated to local charities and picked up free of charge.

Just for fun check out the clip below of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.
 
Youtube video credit: Holiday Favorites

Do you have an island of misfit toys? What do you do with old toys?
 
Forgotten toys at my house


Friday, December 6, 2013

Mind boggling fun – How many words can you create in three minutes?



It began as a typical family game night at my house, but soon turned competitive. We hadn’t played Boggle in years and decided to pull it from the back of the closet. Once we familiarized ourselves with the rules again, the game was on.
As my son shook the letter container, his brother made a comment, “Why are you shaking the letters so aggressively?”

“To make sure the letters are mixed well,” came the reply.
As the game continued, my aggressive son even made up words that only existed to him. No worries. After we scowled at him, the words were crossed off his list.

Here’s how the game is played. Players have three minutes to create as many words as possible. If you have the same word as another player, you must cross it off your list. Words can only be made using letters near each other. You can look up, down, side by side and diagonal.
Give it a try. Set a timer and see how many words you can make using the letters in the photo above. Here an example – lot (do you see it). Leave a comment and indicate the number of words you made.

Don’t look yet, but below are the words I came up with. If you have any of these words cross them off your list.
Have fun with it!

Do you have a favorite family game?

My word list

1.      Lot                                           14.       ate

2.      Pee                                          15.       seal

3.      Lose                                         16.       rest

4.      Sat                                           17.       toe

5.      Real                                         18.       lose

6.      Seat

7.      Rat

8.      Tar

9.      Seam

10.  Lost

11.  Post

12.  Eat

13.  tea

 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

World Record Wednesday – Dominoes in action


Photo credit: debistitches.blogspot.com

As I watched a group of kids playing with dominoes, I wondered how many they were going to line up before toppling it over. This led to my search of world record holders. Below is an interesting video I found showing the longest domino structure in action.


Youtube Video Credit: by BerserkerBerlin

What interesting records have you come across?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Muffins with Mom – When the child becomes the teacher



Gingerbread with a dollop of Cool Whip

Are you ready for another episode of Muffins with Mom? Today I’m having homemade gingerbread (with the help of Betty Crocker). Sit down with your favorite treat and listen to how my son became my teacher.
As I was preparing to work on an upcoming writing project, I grabbed a Diet Coke as I usually do when I’m writing. Only this time, my son knew I was trying to cut back stop drinking my favorite beverage.

My son blocked my path and said, “You don’t have to do this, there are other ways. Don’t go down that road again.”
As I doubled over with laughter, my son tried to wrestle the Diet Coke bottle from my hand. And he kept talking, “If you keep doing this, we’re gonna have to have an intervention.”

I learned a lesson from my son that day…don’t drink Diet Coke in front of him.
 

Here are 8 other lessons I have learned from my children:

1.      It’s hard to reprimand a child when he makes you laugh.

2.      Laughing makes you feel better.

3.      Sometimes doing nothing is if fun.

4.      You’re never too old to have fun.

5.      No matter how much you plan ahead, you can still end up rushing somewhere.

6.      Complaining doesn’t make things better.

7.      Splashing through a rain puddle is not the end of the world.

8.      Tomorrow is another chance to get things right.

What lessons have you learned from your child?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gone Shopping – And other holiday traditions



Photo credit: fox2now.com


As you read this post I am either gone shopping or putting up the Christmas tree with my boys. Today is Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days in the United States. When our kids were younger, my friend and I would do a little early morning shopping, then it was off to breakfast for us.

Door buster sales aside, the best part of shopping is time spent with a friend. Last year was the first time my friend and I decided to change the tradition. Since my son wanted to experience the thrill of Black Friday shopping, I took him. Then we to breakfast, and the tradition continues.

Shopping is not our only holiday tradition, it’s the kickoff of many things to follow. Here’s a short list of things my family likes to do to celebrate the holiday season.

1.      Put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.

2.      Watch holiday movies

3.      Play family games

4.      Unwind with a good book (this one is my favorite pastime, not necessarily that of my boys)

5.      Have family and friends visit

What are some of the traditions you are looking forward to this holiday season?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How do you express gratitude?



A tree of gratitude
 
November is the month for giving thanks and expressing gratitude. During this month we also hear a lot about shopping and great sales. Have you ever stopped to think about the power of Thanksgiving?
A recent article I read talked about the power in the concept of Thanksgiving. This is a time we should give appreciation for our blessings. Beginning today, why not go on a rampage of appreciation? Challenge yourself for the rest of this week, to find ways to express gratitude.

Below are five ways to express gratitude to get your creative juices flowing.

1.      Give away something – it’s a feel good moment when you can away something you know the receiver will appreciate.

2.      Create a gratitude journal – write down things you are grateful for each day for one week.

3.      Use positive affirmations – create a list of your favorite quotes and read one each morning to begin your day.

4.      Make a gratitude board – make a collage’ of things you are grateful for.

5.      Remind yourself to be grateful – frame a favorite quote.
If you would like additional ideas for expressing gratitude check out 20 Ways to givethanks.

How will you express gratitude today?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

National Cashew Day - Fun facts and recipes


Chicken Cashew Curry
Photo credit: ifood.tv

“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.” This is the old jingle from an Almond Joy candy commercial. This jingle popped in my head when I read about National Cashew Day (November 23rd). Whether you like them roasted, toasted, salted or unsalted, cashews can be a delicious treat.
National Cashew Day was first celebrated by a group of Brazilian women in the 16th century. The women prepared cashew-based foods such as sweet dishes, meat recipes and even drinks, then celebrated with a small party.

Restaurants soon began to follow the celebration of National Cashew Day with their version of delicacies. They used nuts in powdered form, chopped or just as a paste. The nuts were even used as a garnish over foods. Check out recipes that use cashews by clicking here.
Did you know that cashews are native to Brazil? Even though they are popular in Indian, Chinese and Thai foods, cashews originate from Brazil. Here are some other facts about cashews that you may find interesting.

·         The cashew tree can be used for medicinal and manufacturing purposes – “acid from the cashew nutshell helps in healing tooth abscesses.”

·         The cashew tree’s “seeds can be ground into a powder and used as an antivenom for snake bites.”

·         The oil from the nutshells is used in brake linings as well as in rubber and plastic materials.

All fun facts were obtained from punchbowl.com
You can celebrate National Cashew Day by trying a cashew-based recipe or sharing a few fun facts with a friend.

What will you do with your next bag of cashews?